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2018 Term One - Week Six - Let's Make Something!

Light Signs Version 2.0


After spending a couple of weeks on the computers doing coding and micro-controllers we decided it was time for our new groups to make something!  We’ve re-imagined our light sign project from last year into something a bit more aesthetically pleasing.  It now requires a glorious mishmash of Woodwork, Spray Painting, CNC and Soldering.


We started by glueing our box structure together:

Then we took our pre-cut pieces of perspex outside and everyone got to spray paint their chosen colour on to what will become the face of their sign.


Then as we waited for the glue and paint to dry we went back into the studio and learnt about how we measure electricity using multi-meters.  This developed into a card based exercise that investigated the difference between Volts, Amps and Watts.  Why is it that your car battery at 12 volts is more dangerous than the static shock you get from a trampoline which can be up to 35,000 volts?

Then there was another quick session outside - putting a second coat of paint on our perspex before jumping on the computers to design the text that would be displayed on our signs.  Over the course of the last couple of days I’ve taken these designs and carved them into each person's sprayed perspex using the CNC machine.

So next week we will be able to solder the LEDs that will light our signs onto boards and fit them into the boxes.  Everyone will also get to choose the colour of LEDs they use (Red, Green, Blue, Yellow or White).  Fingers crossed, everyone will be able to take their project home next week!




Dont you just hate auto-correct sometimes!  It’s taken several attempts to get the computer to accept that I did indeed want to type “Atmosphir” not “Atmosphere”.


A couple of weeks ago Luka (who is a student in “The Guinea Pigs”) came to me and said he wanted to teach a lesson on the game design platform “Atmosphir”.  I said that if he put together a good lesson plan I’d be more than happy for him to take the class and sure enough he came up with the goods.  So this week I got to be a student.


Luka started with a slightly more victorian approach to learning…

…but quickly loosened up and before we knew it we were using this cool tool to design our own game levels.  We learnt about different types of games and what makes for an engaging experience.  After some experimentation we got to play each others creations and provide suggestions as to how they could be made better.  When we finished my level certainly still needed a lot of work - but some of the ones I played were coming along very nicely.

If there’s anyone interested in learning more or trying out “Atmosphir” the software is free and can be downloaded here:

(edit: Luka wanted to add that you'll also have to download and install either GTK# on Windows or Mono on Mac.)




Our “Megabots” group also started a new project this week.  They are building a film prop from components pulled out of old equipment during our “Deconstruction and Recycling” session.  The brief they have been given is:


You have been asked to design a Robot for a new movie that is being made by Weta Workshop.  The movie is called “Cubed” and tells the story of a group of Cube-Bots and their fight for equality within the Robot world.
The script for “Cubed” says that each Cube-Bot measures 200mm square.  They cannot move but each one has a distinct personality and function.  They are built from recycled materials.
Your task is to design one of these Cube-Bots.  Once you have decided upon your Robot’s special traits you then have to build a prop that will represent the Robot in the movie.
Your Prop will be controlled by an Arduino Nano microcontroller.  It is to be built using a combination of Wood/Perspex with recycled materials forming a key part of the design.  
You have two weeks to build your model.  In terms of sensors it can use:
You can attach a small speaker to the Nano and programme it to make bleeps and bloops
You can use LED’s of different colours to flash or stay on to indicate mood or function
You can use a fan or two on your Bot to give it character


Having spent some time thinking about their Robot’s character the group took the wooden base and roof of their “Cube-Bots” outside to spray paint them.  They could use whatever colour/pattern they felt suited their robot best.  Then we returned inside and started filtering through the tubs of components to select items to attach to the perspex sides of each robot.

It’s going to be a great challenging project.  Next week we’ll be mounting all the micro controller hardware onto the base plate while learning more about voltage regulators, relays and motor controllers.


Awesome stuff.  See you all next week!